Its 9:05 pm
I was out and about this week doing my usual rounds on a Tuesday,the library and the local Family Video store in Westland. The library was decent as I managed to find a couple of titles I was looking for.
But it was at the Family Video that I got lucky….see its almost October and finding good horror to buy is near impossible at Family Video because films rent out so well. They get a ton of new films but the chances of getting “Hereditary” in October is slim and none.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see “Pyewacket” staring back at me while shopping.
And seeing it was a IFC Midnight release,you already know I was picking it up. I was a bit wary because a fellow critic,Char Hardin of “Char Remains” had watched it and wasn’t overly impressed and I have stated many times that “IFC Midnight” are hit and miss. Still decided to give this a shot…….
The story opens up with Leah (Nicole Munoz) and her mother (Laurie Holden) dealing with the loss of their father and husband. Both are struggling with the loss and can’t seem to communicate with each other.
Leah takes comfort in hanging with her friends in high school including her best friend Janice (Chloe Rose) and Aaron who really likes Leah.
The small group is into the occult and discuss rituals and other aspects of the craft. When acclaimed occult author Rowan Dove comes to Leah’s town for a signing,Leah gets permission from her mother and gets a book signed. But she stays out late past the signing and ends up in a fight with her mother.
The next night,Leah’s mom apologizes and then tells Leah that they are moving and Leah will have to transfer to a new school. Of course this sparks another tussle as the two drive out to a secluded home in a wooded area. The house looks rundown compared to the old house but the two settle in.
When the two yet again fight,Leah gets angry and gathers up materials for a spellcasting and proceeds outside where she casts a death spell against her own mother by summoning Pyewacket,a evil witch demon.
The very next day her mother makes huge strides in repairing their relationship including letting Leah stay at her current school and making her a great breakfast. Leah is grateful but still a little skeptical. But when things start to go bump in the night,the front door being found open and Leah waking up at the site of her spell,she knows that she has maybe too far and starts to get frightened. She tells her friends and Janice wants to come over and see what is happening.
The two girls talk outside while smoking a joint and then go into the woods where Janice proceeds to scare Leah a little. Janice then settles in on the couch and Leah goes upstairs to bed but the next morning….Janice is gone. Mrs. Reyes spots Janice in their car but she is completely terrified and wants to go home. Leah knows she and her mother are in deep danger……….
Did we like “Pyewacket”? Well……yes and no. Writer/director Adam MacDonald who made a smashing debut with the acclaimed “Backcountry” stumbles here in his sophomore effort. He gets strong performances from his cast and his movie is shot very well and has a good score by Lee Malia.
I liked the slow burn approach as well….but in this case,MacDonald burned so much time without any dialogue that he literally left out the most important part of the film- PYEWACKET herself!!! There is a far shot in which a creature is glimpsed but its only for 2-3 seconds! We have zero idea who or what Pyewacket is or how she became to be. Instead of showing Leah and her mom siting silently in the car and wasting valuable minutes,MacDonald should have used that to establish his creature.
The ending of the film feels rushed and forced as well,MacDonald finds himself boxed into a corner and since he has no creative way or time to establish his main character,he takes a easy and very anti-climatic way out and that is very disappointing because he had worked so hard to set the table for a hell of a ending.
As mentioned the cast was strong,Laurie Holden was amazing as always as the widowed who feels totally trapped by the memories of her late husband. Her mother makes many mistakes but considering where she is at grief wise,its understandable on why she would strike out.
Nicole Munoz is also quite good as Leah,we can see her feelings in every situation,she wears her heart on her sleeve and she knows she has really opened Pandora’s box with her spell being cast in such a bad place. (Yes kids,there really is witchcraft spells and rituals that work).
Pyewacket runs for 90 minutes and should be considered a PG-13 rating.
There is a behind the scenes featurette in the Extras section.
The cheetah and I liked everything about this movie except the most important part,no Pyewacket. Acting,filming and score gets a thumbs/paws up. The writing is a huge thumbs/paws down. And that is a real shame…..
Got any good scary films to suggest to the cheetah and myself? Drop them in the comment box below and we’ll keep a sharp eye out them!